Joint Colloquium

Department of Computer Science
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Steward Observatory

Speaker: Jim Gray
Microsoft Bay Area Research Center
Distinguished Engineer
ACM Turing Award Winner-1998
Topic: On-Line Science: The World-Wide Telescope
as a Prototype for the New Computational Science.
Date:Tuesday, March 11th, 2003
Time:11:00 AM
Place:Kiva Auditorium
Education Bldg., Room 211

Refreshments will be served in the Kiva Auditorium, Education Bldg., Room 211 at 10:30AM


Computational science has historically meant simulation, but there is an increasing role for analysis and mining of online scientific data. As a case in point, half of the world's astronomy data is public. The astronomy community is putting all that data on the Internet so that the Internet becomes the world's best telescope: it has the whole sky, in many spectral bands, and in detail as good as the best 2-year-old telescopes. It is usable by all astronomers everywhere. This is the vision of the virtual observatory -- also called the World Wide Telescope (WWT). As one step along that path I have been working with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (especially Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins) and CalTech to federate their data in web services on the Internet, and to make it easy to ask questions of the database (see This talk explains the rationale for the WWT, discusses how we designed the database, and talks about some data mining tasks. It also describes computer science challenges of publishing, federating, and mining scientific data, and argues that XML web services are key to federating diverse data sources.

About the Speaker: Jim Gray is manager of Microsoft BARC in San Francisco. His work focuses on databases and transaction processing. Jim is active in the research community, is an ACM, NAE, NAS, and AAAS Fellow, and received the ACM Turing Award for his work on transaction processing. He edits a book series on data management, and is active in building massive online scientific databases such as the TerraServer (http://terraService.Net/) and SkyServer ( Jim is working with the astronomy community to build the world-wide telescope, providing access to all the world's astronomical data through the Internet.